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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Democratic Campaign's Vertical Treadmill on Space Mission?

Jack Lynch

While NASA plans a return to the Moon, seeking mineral resources and building 'shirt sleeve' liveable towns for lengthy stays as a preparation for human endurance during a seven year Mars mission, the Democratic Presidential candidates are on a vertical treadmill of their own.

Clinton experiences the heaviest gravity right now, based on miscues from her campaign on race and ethics, and the failure to overcome the popular voting for Obama. Clinton's idea of a space race effort is a clean energy revolution – much the kind of high energy visible response to global oil and energy issues that will be on voters minds throughout the economic crisis only now begun over American workers heating homes and maintaining personal transportation options. Can advances in energy not derive from the vast, sophisticated technology required to even imagine the tests of launching towards Mars with a woman aboard?

Obama faces the weight of negating much needed space hope – by canceling the Constellation project for five years and funding mandatory early childhood education instead. Making two nineteen-sixties liberal goals mutually exclusive is a serious mistake. The kind of fodder a Republican campaign will chew up and spit back to chew once again if any backpedaling on space ventures comes from the campaigns. Can children rise from the projects without a sense of expectation that mankind can rise up through the stars?

Both of these camps will experience bone density loss and possible organ failure as they tinker around the questions of space identity and national issues – but who comes out ahead? It may just be one more tossup in the long journey to the other world of winning the Presidency.

It used to be conventional wisdom that no one ever read party platforms or candidate issue statements, but that was before the internet made fingertip access to campaign details an effortless browse of the computer and search engines coughed up hundreds of links to every interest with detailed postings – enough to bring newsworthiness to minute and even boring statements.

Deep in the space debate are fundamental misunderstandings of the current reasoning for pursuing space, the economic value of space, and the relationship of a society built on exploration and spiritual conquest spinning its wheels at the ocean's edges as its inner space fills with a bland culture of suburban sprawl and consumption.

Philosophically, space is our next frontier, spiritually, it is our destiny – these candidates miss the point in their small rushes towards personal promotion. As a child I heard John Kennedy's call to the Moon in my bones, Kennedy was a friend of my imagination and vision, these candidates are no John Kennedy.

Space activity is about broad human benefits, not just narrow accomplishments against future budgets. We can only hope our eventual nominee and President will see that more clearly then they do now.

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